When this episode first aired, I thought it was humorous. And I thought that was a bit of a mistake, to introduce the Big New Villain of the show in a humorous episode, because it made it hard to take them seriously in later episodes.
But watching this episode 20 years later, I think it's more of a case of William Shatner singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." I think they meant this episode to be completely serious at the time, and it just didn't come across that way they meant it to, so they said "Oh, yeah, that was what we meant. Hehe." And then Ira Behr rolled in and handled them as the supporting-level humorous characters they really were and they worked much better.